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Chapter Adopts New Strategic Direction--Licensing, Leadership, and Workforce
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Chapter Adopts New Strategic Direction- Licensing, Leadership, and Workforce
Message From The President

Patricia Brownell

November 2008


I have recently completed my third month in office and am still thinking back to the New York City Chapter Board of Directors retreat hosted by the Hunter College School of Social Work on September 26. At this all-day retreat, officers of the Board, members at large, committee chairs, and guests convened to meet, learn about each other as leaders of the Chapter, and review the work of the Chapter to be undertaken in the upcoming year on behalf of the membership. Notably the three year strategic plan for the chapter was presented by Executive Director, Dr. Robert Schachter.

This plan, which was developed by Chapter leadership during the past year, lays out a number of goals and objectives related to strengthening the social work workforce, addressing concerns about licensing, and continuing the important work of undoing racism through seminars and workshops. It is also focused on providing continuing education opportunities to promote and enhance professional development of Chapter members, expanding membership, and addressing the concerns of new professionals. These are just a few of the many initiatives that the Chapter staff and volunteer leadership plan to undertake in order to promote the NASW-NYC Chapter as a vital and diverse membership association. Reflecting our vision statement, we work hard to assure that the social work profession in New York City will be strong and valued now and in the years ahead for the communities we serve and for our social work profession.

One of the very exciting events planned for Thursday, December 4, is the annual dinner celebrating emerging leaders in the New York City social work community. This year 41 nominations were received, and 12 awardees were selected among a stellar group of new professional leaders, with an additional number of honorable mentions. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to learn about so many dedicated and talented social workers who, in addition to providing outstanding services to the clients they serve, also go beyond their professional work to serve their profession and their communities in volunteer leadership positions. I hope the Chapter members, colleagues, co-workers, family and friends all attend this gala dinner to honor their colleagues, network with each other, meet the Chapter staff and Board members, and have a great time.

Licensing continues to be a top priority for the Chapter office. Dr. Schachter has been following developments in licensing at the New York State Education Department (SED) and has taken the lead in sharing these developments with our Chapter membership in Currents and at other forums. New York City Chapter members are fortunate to have the expertise of our executive director and his staff, to help us keep abreast of the many changes in the implementation of the New York State licensing program, and to identify opportunities to discuss Chapter member issues with legislators and licensing board staff.

Conversations about the NYS licensing program continue to focus on the scope of practice for both the LMSW and LCSW licenses. The LMSW is the advanced and terminal license for social workers engaged in the macro practice methods, such as social administration, community organizing, policy planning and advocacy, project management, research and education. However, it has a dual meaning: for direct service practitioners, it can be interpreted as “beginning practitioner”; with the LCSW meaning “advanced practitioner” despite our efforts promote the equitable value of social work across the board.

The challenge facing the profession in NYS is that only three of the six key direct service methods are identified as clinical for the purposes of licensing: diagnosis, psychotherapy, and implementation of assessment-based treatment plans. Important direct services methods including case management, care coordination, and counseling are not recognized as clinical by the current NYS licensing program, even though each of these methods has a rich body of theory and knowledge as they pertain to advanced social work practice. In most states, when practiced under the supervision of a qualified clinical social worker for a defined period of time post-master’s, this leads to the LCSW.

An unintended consequence of this bifurcation of direct social work practice methods in the current NYS licensing law is that there is the potential for entire delivery systems not being considered as qualified experience settings for direct practice LMSWs seeking recognition for advanced practice status. This could also have implications for third-party service reimbursement, with Medicare, Medicaid and other third party funders reimbursing at the “highest licensing level” – the LCSW, and some state laws and regulations being in the process of revision to reflect new licensing levels.

Loan forgiveness is another program that is critical to members who graduate with large student loans and move into the workforce to serve the elderly, families with children, the seriously and persistently mentally ill, and those struggling with substance abuse issues. The Chapter and its political action committee (Political Action for Candidate Election – PACE) work together to identify legislators who care about social work with vulnerable populations, educate them on the need for programs like loan forgiveness and scholarships, and support their candidacy for office.

I look forward to working closely with the Chapter staff, leadership and members as we move forward to address these and other important Chapter issues.


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